Tag Archives: parent
Children of narcissistic parents often experience similar types of abuse when growing up. So many of us have spoken to others & said things like, “Yea!! My mother did that exact same thing!” Many of my readers have told me their stories & they sound oddly similar to my own. Their mothers told them they were crazy, fat, stupid, ugly, worthless, etc. They used similar gaslighting phrases to my mother’s, such as “I don’t remember it that way.” “You’re crazy!” “What is wrong with you?” The similarities are uncanny! In fact, I’ve often wondered if they all have some sort of secret narcissistic instruction manual since so many narcissists act very similar.
The abuse isn’t the only thing that’s similar about being raised by narcissistic parents. The damage done is oddly similar.
- Adult children of narcissists don’t know ourselves. At best, we know who our narcissistic parent told us we were.
- We have incredibly low self-esteem, often even believing we have no right to exist & take up space in this world.
- The low self-esteem makes us incredibly anxious, often terrified of asking people for something,
- We feel incredible amounts of toxic shame about every single thing about us.
- Many adult children of narcissistic parents struggle with issues with their weight. We were told constantly how fat or skinny we were growing up, so we began early in life to see our bodies through our narcissistic parent’s eyes rather than our own. This often leads to eating disorders or other issues with food.
- Boundaries? What are those? They must be for other people, certainly not for children of narcissistic parents!
- We’re exhausted constantly. A lifetime of narcissistic abuse makes people function in survival mode, always trying to put out the next fire as soon as it starts or, better yet, try to make sure the fire doesn’t start in the first place.
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or C-PTSD (Complex PTSD) is common. Being raised by at least one narcissistic parent is traumatic in so many ways, so many adult children are diagnosed with PTSD or C-PTSD.
- Physical problems such as high blood pressure, arthritis, aches & pains with no physical cause, & more.
Dear Reader, chances are you have experienced symptoms like this, probably more. Maybe it’s even what brought you to my blog today. If you are experiencing such things, then please know you aren’t crazy! You’re far from it in fact. You’re a normal person who has experienced extremely abnormal things, & had a normal reaction to them.
I can’t tell you today that the symptoms will all go away quickly, because they won’t. Prayer, love & support from those around you, counseling will help you get healthier. Prayer in particular is the most important thing you can do to help yourself. Remember, the Bible referred to Jesus as “The Great Physician” & “Wonderful Counselor”- who better to help you get through this? Also, the more you learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the more it will help you to see that you were not the real problem, contrary to what you were told. You may need to go no contact for your healing to progress, or at the least go low contact. The more distance between you & your abusive parent, the better it is for your mental & physical health. You’ll gain clarity you can’t have when in their presence often. You also will stop functioning in survival mode, which will allow you to think of yourself for once rather than your parents.
The symptoms resulting from narcissistic abuse are nothing to take lightly. Take care of yourself. You deserve to be happy & healthy! xoxo
**DISCLAIMER: If, like many of my readers, you are in the unfortunate position of not being able to go no contact with your narcissistic parent, please do NOT think this article is aimed at you! It most certainly isn’t!! I’m sure many of you have been shamed enough & I am not trying to add to that shame by implying you’re weak or wrong or whatever for being in that position. Every situation is unique, & I won’t judge you. This post is aimed at those who have gone no contact, not you!**
Going no contact (or even low contact for that matter) with a narcissistic parent isn’t an easy thing to do. There is a tremendous amount of anger & grief at the abnormal, awful circumstances that bring a person to this decision. Then there is society & their warped views of no contact. Some people think you should cut someone out of your life (yes, even a parent) at the first sign of them disagreeing with you. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who think you’re a horrible person if you even entertain the idea of ending a relationship with your parent, no matter what. Many of those people also think you’re weak for “taking the easy way out”. That is the point I want to address today.
If you’re in the painful place of having gone no contact with your narcissistic parent, my heart breaks for you. I know the pain of this first hand & would tell anyone who thinks it’s easy or cowardly that they are completely, absolutely, 1,000% WRONG.
First of all, a relationship with an abusive parent is incredibly painful. Parents are supposed to love their children unconditionally, & realizing that not only do they not love us but are out to hurt & control us hurts! Really, really freaking hurts! How can anyone continue to subject themselves to that indefinitely? Every person has their limits.
Secondly, even considering how painful it is having an abusive parent, children naturally don’t want to end that relationship. It feels unnatural to end that relationship. How can it not?! That’s your mother or father, not some casual acquaintance.
Third, thinking about going no contact isn’t some easy decision like where to go for dinner. It takes a lot of prayer, thought, time, weighing your options, imagining scenarios.. it’s incredibly draining just to think about, let alone do it.
Lastly, once you are no contact, that doesn’t mean things are going to be easy. Without that narcissistic parent in your life, your emotions that you stifled so long just to survive the toxic relationship are probably going to come to the surface & demand you deal with them. That’s never fun! I’m going through it myself & I can tell you, quite frankly, it’s really rough! (It’s good in the fact I’m finally able to deal with stuff left untouched in so long, but it’s not fun to go through the process). There’s also the distinct possibility your narcissistic parent will send the flying monkeys after you to “talk some sense” into you by attempting to make you feel guilty for going no contact. After all, that parent won’t be around forever yanno! She’s getting older, & she is your mother yanno! Flying monkeys are always fun to deal with. (yes, I’m being totally sarcastic in that comment). Even more fun is the chance your narcissistic parent will attempt to contact you personally. There’s nothing quite like going along with your day, in a good mood, when you open your mailbox & see that parent’s handwriting. So much for that good mood. You can block that parent from emailing, calling, texting or on social media, but you can’t block postal mail.
So if anyone reading this thinks no contact is the cowardly thing to do, the easy route, think again. It’s far from it! Going no contact is actually a very brave, incredibly difficult thing to do.
Proverbs 19:19 “A man of great anger will bear the penalty [for his quick temper and lack of self-control];
For if you rescue him [and do not let him learn from the consequences of his action], you will only have to rescue him over and over again.” (AMP)
Consequences are a valuable thing. They teach people what is & is not acceptable behavior, what is safe & not safe & more. Many children of narcissistic parents are not taught this in a healthy way, however.
Narcissistic parents teach their children to take care of them, instead of the natural order of things, the parent caring for the child. One way they expect their children to take care of them is to interrupt the natural event of consequences for their actions.
- If the narcissistic parent hurts the child’s feelings, the child is to hold the pain inside rather than tell the parent how she feels to protect the parent’s feelings.
- The child should never set boundaries of any sort with her parent, so the parent is free to abuse anytime, any way she is so inclined.
- Most of all, the child never, ever should tell anyone about what her parent does to her. That way, no one thinks badly of the parent or gets her in any trouble for child abuse.
As the child of a narcissistic parent grows up, they get fed up with such nonsense, & rightfully so. It’s not fair this abusive, evil parent skates through life unscathed while her child suffers constantly.
If you’re in this place, Dear Reader, I want you to know that you have ever right to stop protecting your parent from the consequences of their actions. It’s Biblical to allow consequences to happen- just reread the above mentioned Scripture again if you don’t believe that. You have every right to set healthy boundaries & to tell your parent that her actions are not acceptable to you. In fact, you even have the right to go no contact with your parent if you are so inclined. Titus 3:10 says, “After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him],” (AMP) Parents are not excluded from this Scripture, I believe, because God knows that sometimes, even a parent/child relationship comes down to needing that separation.
So Dear Reader, please don’t forget that your parent needs consequences for their actions. It is NOT your job to protect them from consequences. They need them if they are to have any chance of learning to behave better.
So many people are quick to defend abusive parents. They may say they did the best they could, or you should forgive & forget what they did to you since they were abused as children so they didn’t know any better. Others simply refuse to believe the abuse happened, accusing you of lying or exaggerating.
Why does this happen so often anyway?! I have some thoughts..
If you notice, people who came from truly loving, functional upbringings aren’t the ones doing this. They know what real, Godly love is, so this means they also know what it is not. When you tell them horror stories of the abuse you endured, they normally are shocked & horrified that a parent could treat their own child that way. Their parents never would have done such a thing to them, & they know that. They won’t make excuses for the abuse or try to normalize it. It’s wrong & they call it wrong. They offer you love & support because they know that is the right thing to do. They may not understand how you feel since they never endured such things, but even so, they empathize with you, & it hurts them you have been so mistreated. I have two friends that I’ve known since Kindergarten & first grade. One male, one female. Both were raised by loving mothers, she had a very kind wonderful father & the his father physically abused his mother. They have no personal experience with being abused narcissistic parents, yet they are very supportive & kind to me.
People who come from dysfunctional upbringings however act much differently. They are the ones who are quick to say, “But those are your parents! They won’t be around forever!” “I’m sure they did the best they could!” “They just don’t know any better!”
I can’t help but think this is because these people are triggered by your openness. You discussing your painful childhood makes them think of theirs, & they aren’t willing to face theirs at all. If they can shut you up, they can resume their denial of their own pain. For years, my husband thought I should try harder with my parents. Ignore their cruelty. He made excuses for what they did. At the same time, he was doing just that with his own abusive parents. It took him many years before he would say anything even remotely negative about his parents, let alone admit his parents were abusive.
Some people also may recognize their own behaviors when you describe the abuse you endured, & they don’t want to face that either. They may be abusing their child the same way you were abused, & don’t want to admit they are abusive or wrong. They like the control they have, & don’t want to lose it.
There are also others who can’t handle anything negative. These are the same people who expect every book & movie to have happy endings, & they want the same from real life. My mother is that way. She hates anything negative. These people don’t want to hear about your problems. They want to hear only about light, fluffy, happy topics, ignoring anything bad or negative. These people don’t seem to have good coping skills, so they avoid anything that is even mildly upsetting. You discussing your pain is upsetting, so they don’t want to hear about it. Unless you can share something light & happy with them, they don’t want you to talk about it with them.
Whatever the reason someone defends abusive parents, take it as a warning for you that this person is NOT safe to discuss your painful experiences with!
Have you ever noticed that almost no one says you are right to have problems with abusive family members? That it is OK to defend yourself to them? Instead, you are encouraged to “just let it go.” Or, excuses are made like, “Well, she’s getting old now…” or “You know how he is.”
Why do so many people think it is wrong to speak your mind & defend yourself when someone says cruel things to you?
I think it is because people do NOT want to leave their comfort zone. They would prefer you stuff your emotions (because that is oh so healthy..not) than make them uncomfortable by standing up for yourself.
Those of us who have been abused have been through more than enough suffering. It isn’t fair to expect us to go through more just to make someone else comfortable by not upsetting them.
When people tell you to “just let it go” or “don’t rock the boat”, ignore them! If you feel you need to speak up when your parent is cruel to you, then by all means, you have that right! There is nothing good, loving or honorable in “not rocking the boat.” People need to be accountable for their actions, like it or not. They need to know when they have said or done something that is inappropriate. Whether or not they change their behavior is not your responsibility, but at least by speaking up you have made them aware of the inappropriateness of their actions.
I have just published my newest book entitled, “The Truth About Elderly Narcissists”. It’s all about identifying their changing abusive behaviors, finding ways to cope with them while taking care of yourself, coping as a caregiver, as well as things to consider if you opt to go no contact.
This book is available in ebook & print formats on my website at:
Some time ago, I added a poll to my blog asking when my readers’ narcissists were born. Since it’s been over 3 years, & this blog has grown quite a bit since then, I thought I’d do the poll again.
I’d love to hear your responses. Please respond to my poll below. Your answers will remain anonymous. Thank you!
Learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an amazing thing. It gives you answers you’ve always wanted & shows you that you were lied to- not everything was your fault. It’s a wonderful thing in that way!
Yet at the same time, learning about NPD also means you grieve. You realize that your narcissistic parents never will be the kind, loving, caring parents you always wanted & hoped they would be. It destroys that hope that one day, they’d see the error of their ways & start treating you well. Thank God, grieving does get easier, but I’m not sure it ever goes away entirely.
In my experience, I’ve realized something else about the grief process. For me, it was easier to grieve when I learned my overtly narcissistic mother was a narcissist than when I learned my covertly narcissistic father was one. Her actions were so obviously wrong, that there was no denial she was that way. There was no questioning that she was out to hurt & control me. I knew that even before learning about NPD.
My father, however, was a different story.
My father always acted naive, even though he’s very intelligent. He can play the victim or pitiful card well, too. When I went to him with problems about my mother, he would act sad & tell me he couldn’t do anything to help me. It was hard on him knowing she was hurting me, he said. I ended up comforting him when he should’ve been comforting & protecting me. He’s also very subtle at his manipulations, so it’s easy to miss what his true motives are unless you’re very familiar with narcissism. For example, there were times when I didn’t answer his phone call or didn’t call him when he thought I should. He would tell other people he’s so worried about me- he doesn’t know why I haven’t called him in a while. If they talk to me would they mind have me call him? Sounds like a concerned father, doesn’t it? Yet, it’s about making me do what he wants, not concern or love for me.
Because my father is so good at being subtle (the opposite of my mother), it’s been really hard to accept that he’s a covert narcissist. I always thought of him as the good, loving parent. He never called me names, verbally tore me down, or screamed at me like my mother did, so he had to be the good parent. Or, so I told myself.
Besides, having two parents who don’t love you is a very painful thing to accept. No one wants to believe neither of their parents care about them. It’s easier to deny that the covertly narcissistic parent is that way. Their actions are so subtle anyway, it’s easy to miss their abuse, unlike overt narcissists. Compared to an overt narcissist parent, the covert seems like a tiptoe through the tulips. At least until you learn about covert narcissists & how diabolical they truly are, hiding behind the mask of the good parent.
If you’re having a tough time accepting that you have a covertly narcissistic parent, please don’t feel bad. It’s tough to accept! It really hurts & is very disappointing when you realize the one parent you thought loved you really didn’t.
You need to grieve & get your hurt out to come to a healthy place of acceptance. As you do, you may find yourself going through an angry phase. I have. Angry about being fooled, angry at being manipulated into thinking he was the good parent, angry about being manipulated & guilt tripped.. lots of anger. I think this is very normal. Covert narcissists work even harder than overts do to fool people. Most overts worry about fooling those they want to impress, while not caring about their victims. Coverts, however, want everyone to think they’re good people, including their victims. Since we do buy their “good guy/good girl” act, it’s incredibly maddening to find out how badly we were duped. So, when the anger surfaces, just know- it ain’t gonna be pretty, but it’s OK. Get it out however works for you- pray, journal, talk to someone safe.
The anger also may come back even when you think it’s all gone. Nothing wrong with that so long as you’re dealing with it when that happens. Anger isn’t always easy to process. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes, you’re only able to deal with it in small doses, so God hides some things from you until you’re able to cope. All you can do is deal with it in whatever ways help you the most.
Never forget, God will help you get through it all. Ask for help & wisdom on how to do what you need to do. Listen to what He tells you. Trust Him, & you will be just fine. xoxo
While I write in the hopes of helping those who are still in a relationship with their narcissistic parent(s), this doesn’t mean I am for staying in that relationship no matter what. I firmly believe everyone has the right to make their own individual choice on whether or not to stay in that relationship, & should not be pressured on what to do. People are different in what they can & can’t handle, plus narcissists are on a spectrum- some are downright dangerous while others are much lower on the spectrum, therefore easier to deal with. Each situation is very unique, so there are no one size fits all answers.
That being said…
Ending relationships is very difficult, but especially when the relationship is with your parent(s). It shouldn’t be done in the heat of the moment, such as during an argument. It should be done after a great deal of prayer & thought on the matter.
If you believe your physical & mental health is in danger, you are certainly well within your rights to sever ties with your parents.
Sometimes, people don’t feel ready to go no contact although they want to. Until they do feel strong enough, going low contact may be a very good option. You don’t have to spend a lot of time visiting or on the phone with your narcissistic parents. You have the right to limit your time with them. You may even learn that low contact works well enough for you.
Low contact is also a good solution when no contact is impossible for various reasons.
If you are unsure what to do, pray. God may ultimately leave the choice up to you, or He may tell you what is best to do in your situation. Either way, it is a very good idea to talk to Him about this important decision.
God also can help you to find creative ways to handle the relationship with your parents if you stay low contact or help you end it if you go no contact. And, He can enable you to be stronger than you are when you need to deal with them. You simply can’t lose with God helping you in this situation.
I’ve read so many times that narcissists never change, but I have to disagree with this.
Narcissists can change for the better, because with God, all things are possible. This is quite rare, but it’s certainly something to hope & pray for. (I believe in hoping for the best but preparing for the worst) It happened with my husband’s father- he improved so much. I don’t know why he changed, but it was wonderful. He was caring & kind to my husband instead of his usual behavior- critical, bossy & generally nasty. Unfortunately though, he later developed dementia, & returned to his old ways. (Dementia & Alzheimer’s can exacerbate narcissistic tendencies. Sadly, this is quite normal.) After his wife (a covert narcissist) died in 2016, he returned to his much better behavior.
More commonly though, narcissists do change as they get older, & they get much more devious & creative. They have to change because as they age, they have to use different tactics if they want to remain in control. In my teens, my mother was a very intimidating & imposing figure. When she screamed at me, as she did so very often, I was always afraid she’d physically hurt me. If she tried this today at age 77, I wouldn’t be so intimidated. How could I be? She is much older & frailer now. Screaming at me now wouldn’t have the desired effect, so she has changed her tactic from screaming to speaking in a soft tone & saying the most vicious things she can come up with.
Narcissists are smart- they know what will be the most effective way to accomplish something they want to accomplish. They are experts at reading people, as they have to be to figure out the best way to use them. They also are smart enough to realize what worked well for them when they were 35 most likely won’t work as well at 75, & they must adapt accordingly. Besides, their children aren’t as easily pushed around at 40 as they were at 10. They have to find new ways to manipulate them if they wish to continue using their children.
Many older narcissists also like to reminisce. They like to talk with you about the past. Often it’s the usual narcissistic rhetoric- bragging about their great accomplishments at work or the vast numbers of people they’ve helped. But, narcissistic parents also can do something very hurtful- brag about the amazing childhood you had. My mother has done this many times. She talks about all the great things she did for me when I was a child. Some things were simply a parent doing what she should for a child, & some things never happened at all. When this happens, it used to hurt me a great deal. She was invalidating & denying abusing me! Instead she made me look like a screw up who needed her. Finally though, God showed me something that has helped me tremendously. This behavior is a coping skill. Dysfunctional as it is, this is how my mother copes with the guilt she feels for being so abusive. Rather than take responsibility & apologize to me, she reinvents the past to make herself look like a good mother. She also even tries to get me to agree with her stories, in the hopes of convincing herself & I both that the stories really are true. Once God showed me this, it made perfect sense to me. I no longer was so hurt by her stories, because I knew they weren’t a personal attack (even though they may feel like it sometimes). I knew instead they were a dysfunctional coping skill. It is her right to use that skill if she wants. It’s also my right not to validate her stories if I am so inclined, & I never do validate them.
Just be forewarned, Dear Reader. As your narcissistic mother ages, she may not mellow out like many folks do. She may seem a bit easier to handle in her golden years because she isn’t screaming, but don’t be fooled- just because she isn’t screaming or physically abusive doesn’t mean she isn’t still capable of hurting you a great deal.
Many people have a very skewed view of what it truly means to honor someone, especially their parents. They’ll throw around “honor thy mother & father” while conveniently forgetting the Scriptures directed at parents (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). They falsely believe that honoring parents means you have to sacrifice yourself or your principles. You must do what they want, no matter what it costs you, or else you aren’t honoring your parents.
Honor isn’t always what people think it is. http://www.merriam-webster.com defines honor as follows: “a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder>” I interpret this to mean basic things like treating a person with basic respect. Using manners, being considerate of them, disagreeing respectfully rather than cussing them out, & the like. Nowhere in this definition does it sound to me like honoring someone means you must cater to their every whim.
Spoiling someone by giving them everything they want or doing everything for them isn’t honorable. It teaches the person nothing at all. It doesn’t help them to learn & grow, which is NOT good for a person. In fact, many people believe some narcissistic adults were once spoiled children. They became entitled, selfish adults by having all of their whims catered to.
Allowing someone to control you isn’t honorable either. All that does is teach a person how to be manipulative, entitled & bossy. There is no honor in that!
Tolerating abuse is certainly not honorable. It encourages awful behavior while hurting you. How could that possibly be an honorable thing?
People need to have boundaries & consequences for their actions. Such things are honorable, especially when done in a respectful way. There are ways to state things in a respectful manner, such as stating in a calm but firm tone, “I’m not going to discuss this with you. If you keep talking about it, I’ll hang up this phone. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about? No? OK, good bye.” *hangs up phone* That is just one example of being respectful while setting boundaries & giving consequences.
In 2002, I stopped speaking to my mother for several years. Coming to that decision wasn’t easy at all for me. I knew I needed to do it to heal, but I believed it wasn’t honorable. I struggled with this decision & prayed a lot. One day, I told God how conflicted I felt. He spoke to my heart so clearly & said, “Where is the honor in the fact your very presence stirs up strife with your mother?” It made sense to me. Being with my mother meant she acted up. She verbally abused me. She insulted every tiny thing about me & those I cared about. She bossed me around like I was the hired help & not her daughter. There was NO honor in that. Going no contact at that time was the most honorable thing I could do. It enabled me to have time to myself to heal, & it put an end to much of her horrible behavior since she doesn’t treat anyone else like she does me. It also showed her that I was done tolerating her abuse. If she chose to abuse me she would have consequences for doing so, like me leaving her life. In situations like this, even going no contact with an abusive parent can be the most honorable thing you can do.
If you struggle with honoring your abusive parent, I would encourage you to pray, Dear Reader. Ask God to show you the truth on this matter. He will, as He has done for me. You will rest much easier when you know the real truth about what it means to honor your parent.
Narcissists have incredibly dysfunctional coping skills. Unfortunately this means that their pain can overflow onto those around them.
When my mother was still speaking to me, for about 2 years or so, she kept telling me what a great mother she was to me. She bragged about forcing me to stand up to a bully in seventh grade (she didn’t), taking me to the doctor when I sprained my foot in ninth grade (as she should have) & other ridiculous things. She also wanted me to validate her delusions, agreeing with how great a mother she was to me.
In talking with others who have a narcissistic parent or two, I have learned this behavior is very common. It’s also very painful.
For me, this used to make me so incredibly angry. How dare she want me to enforce her delusions & pretend I was never abused! I felt invalidated, as if she was pretending the abuse she put me through never happened.
God showed me something though. My mother doesn’t have any healthy coping skills, so this is what she does. She knows what she did to me is wrong, but rather than admit that, she goes into denial. She wants to convince herself she was a great mother, even going as far as to try to force me to agree with her.
As ridiculous & dysfunctional as this is, it is her choice & her right. There is no law against having dysfunctional coping skills. That being said, that choice can be respected while not reinforced.
There is no good reason to reinforce such delusions. It only allows the person to continue in their dysfunction while invalidating your own painful experiences. When approached by a narcissistic parent in this situation, I have found it best to remain as neutral & quiet as possible or to change the subject.
Also never forget- this is the narcissist’s coping skill. It has nothing to do with you even though it feels like it does. It just shows how dysfunctional she is. Remembering that helps you not to take the comments so personally & to put the responsibility right back onto the narcissist. This is all about her dysfunction & lack of coping skills- all the responsibility & baggage belongs squarely on her shoulders, period, so leave it there! Don’t take it on yourself- you deserve so much better than to carry her issues & shame.
As I’ve mentioned before, my parents have stopped speaking to me recently. Since, I’ve been experiencing a plethora of emotions, & I’m going to hazard a guess they’re pretty normal under the circumstances. I also realized when a narcissistic parent goes no contact with you, it feels a lot different than when you are the one to go no contact. In 2001, I went no contact with my mother (she initiated contact with me in 2007, & I allowed her back into my life at that point). Seeing both types of going no contact has been eye opening to me. I’m hoping sharing this with you will help you if your parents have gone no contact with you.
When I went no contact with my mother, it’d been after a great deal of prayer & consideration on the subject. I knew in my heart it was the best thing I could do, & I was as prepared as I could be to sever ties with my mother. And, I only went no contact with my mother. At the time, I had no knowledge at all of narcissism. Naturally I didn’t realize my father was a covert narcissist & abusive in his own way that was different than hers, so I kept in touch with him. Anyway, I was able to grieve losing my mother, then face some of my own issues stemming from her abuse. The time apart was just what I needed at that time. It was a good thing for me.
Fast forward to this year. I answered my parents’ phone call not expecting the huge fight that followed. It was a complete surprise. I’d expected a bit of a disagreement, but not in the really big fight that actually took place with both of my parents.
I wasn’t surprised my mother stopped speaking to me afterwards. She is the queen of the silent treatment, & I’m sure me defending myself to her was a huge narcissistic injury worthy of the silent treatment. What did surprise me was my father. Since he always wants to look like the good guy, I never expected him to stop speaking to me.
Another big surprise is when praying about the entire situation some time later, God told me He wants them out of my life. I’m not sure if He means forever or a season just yet, but either way- that was a big surprise too. He’s showed me repeatedly that I need distance from their toxicity.
The element of surprise can be pretty intense in such a situation. For one thing, since narcissists are so obsessed with appearances, they seldom want to end contact with their own child because it might make them look bad. Can’t have that now can we?! So when they do sever ties, it can come as a complete shock. Even though some time has passed, I still feel quite shocked at the turn our relationship took.
Also, any loss can trigger grief, even when the loss is your own dysfunctional & abusive parents. When I first felt this grief, I wondered what was wrong with me. These people have made my life a living hell ever since I can remember. I should be glad they’re gone! Why wasn’t I reveling in them being gone, I wondered. God showed me that abusive or not, they’re still my parents. Losing your parents, whether they’re loving or abusive, is a hard thing to handle for anyone.
No contact has triggered a lot of anger in me, too. I’m angry my parents had the unadulterated gall to get mad at me when they were the ones clearly in the wrong in our argument. It’s glaringly obvious to anyone who knows the story that they were wrong, yet they would prefer being wrong & pretending to be right than have me, their own daughter, in their life.
I’ve found too, that triggers are everywhere, & in strange places. When I hear or read about a parent showing concern for their child, no matter the child’s age, it upsets me easily now. It makes me sad since that’s something I’ve never had & never will have. It also makes me angry because the reason for our fight, my late mother in-law, was never a source of concern for my parents when it clearly should have been. I told them for years how cruel she was to me, & they truly did not care. I know my mother didn’t even believe me when I said she choked me when my husband & I told her we had eloped. (As if I’d make something like that up!) You’d think a physical assault might warrant some concern from my parents, but it never did. Anyone else I told that story to was shocked. My parents? Bored.
Intrusive thoughts have been a constant as well. Things I’d really just as soon not think about pop into my mind constantly, against my will. I can’t even escape at night because I have nightmares every single night. I may not remember details of them, but I remember my parents were in them & I wake up feeling the anger, fear or depression I felt in the dreams.
There is sadness & depression too. I think my parents’ going no contact with me has really made it sink in how little they have been there for me in my life. This is just one more of those times. Sure, growing up, they provided for some of my needs- I always had food, clothing & shelter- but there was no emotional nurturing or genuine love. In fact, there was more abuse than anything else.
I also think these things were magnified because of the fact I was going through a particularly hard time at the time of our argument. When you’re already stressed or upset, any little thing can feel even worse. So when you experience something very painful, it really hurts, even worse than it would under better circumstances.
In spite of all of these negatives, something absolutely wonderful has come out of it all, & makes it all worthwhile. Freedom!
Without my parents in my life, I have found a new freedom. For the first time, I’m finally free to be the person God made me to be. No longer do I need to be “on” so much. After all, when dealing with narcissists, that’s how it is- you’re on your guard the entire time you’re with them. You also have to mentally prepare when you know you need to interact with them in the near future. Finally, I’m able to relax.
I’ve also been able to get to know myself for the first time in my life. Growing up, I was told who to be. My ex husband tried to mold me into what he wanted me to be. Later when I married my current husband, I tried to be what he wanted me to be & even what his mother wanted me to be in the hopes of making her hate me less. In the last few years, I’ve tried off & on to be me, the person God wants me to be, & while I had some success with that, it’s been much more successful without my parents in my life. The constant disapproval of everything about me I think made me feel like who I am is a bad person, wrong, etc. Without that disapproval, I’m free to be me.
I’ve realized something else good that came with this freedom. Because I stood up to my parents during that argument in May, it’s given me a new confidence. If I could stand up to them at that time when I felt weak & was caught off guard, I can stand up to anyone about anything now. In fact, that confidence even stirred a new fire in me to speak out more against narcissistic abuse. I think that’s pretty cool!
God has been using this time apart in a great way for me. As hard as it’s been, He has been carrying me through. He had reasons for removing my parents from my life. Allowing me to heal, enabling me to be more the person He created me to be & less who they want me to be & giving me more confidence to speak against narcissistic abuse have all been a huge blessing for me.
If your narcissistic parents have opted to go no contact with you, then please know it can be a blessing in disguise. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s mind boggling that they treated you so badly & had the gall to act like you’re such a bad person, they had to go no contact with you. Yes, it makes you angry. But, one thing about God is He can make good things come from bad situations. Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV) If you’re not seeing anything good, ask Him to make good come from this situation & to show you the good you need to see.
I believe picking your battles with a narcissist is among the most challenging thing a person can do when in a relationship with a narcissist. They need to know their behavior is unacceptable, yet when confronted, the person doing the confronting often ends up frustrated & even more hurt than they were after the original event that made them think they should confront the narcissist.
Second only to deciding when to confront a narcissist is how to confront them once you decided to do it. Narcissists love to play the victim & also to twist a situation around so you’re the bad guy. It can feel impossible to know the best way to go about this incredibly difficult situation.
I firmly believe in staying calm & sticking to the facts. Force the conversation to stay on topic, otherwise the narcissist will steer you completely off topic, & most likely onto what they think is wrong with you. They may provoke you into getting so caught up in defending yourself, you forget what the original topic of the conversation was supposed to be.
There is one thing that I have found to be even more important though, & that is prayer. Before talking to a narcissist, pray. If they are calling, quickly ask God should you take the call or let it ring. If you feel you should take the call, ask Him to help you through the conversation. He truly will not let you down!! And, it may be in a different way than you expect, but it will be the best way possible.
Last May just after my mother in-law died, I didn’t tell my parents. I realized they’d see her obituary in the local newspaper. I expected them to call me, & say how sad it was, she was a great woman, blah blah… things I did NOT want to hear about the woman who hated me & treated me like dirt for the first 8 years of my husband’s & my relationship. When my parents called a few days after she died, I knew the call wasn’t going to be pleasant. I also knew I might as well take the call because if I didn’t, they’d call back constantly until I answered since that’s what they do & they’d think this was an important topic. I also asked God to help me have the right words to say. My parents shocked me by saying they wanted to attend the funeral, & were upset they didn’t even know she passed until they saw her obituary. Wasn’t expecting that! It immediately angered me, especially when my parents acted like something was wrong with me for being angry. I ended up yelling at both of my parents, even using some bad language which are all not my normal behaviors with them.
Once I hung up the phone, I told God how sorry I was- I don’t even know what happened to me, why I reacted that way. It’s not like this was the first time my folks cared more about someone who has hurt me than me. God spoke to my heart & said this is exactly what they needed. They needed to know that they hurt me so badly, that I would act that way, so out of character. He answered my prayer- He gave me the right words for the situation at hand- just not in the way I expected.
In the months that have passed, I realized God wanted my parents out of my life, & this was a way to do it. They have cut ties with me, so I can’t be accused of going no contact with them. Anyone who hears about this situation has to see the ridiculousness of it. My parents cared more about someone they saw twice in the 22 years my husband & I have been together, than me, their own daughter. It’s only logical I’d have been upset by that. Not even the most devoted flying monkeys can justify their incredibly hurtful behavior, which is probably why I haven’t heard from any of them.
My point (finally) is that praying before confronting a narcissist is absolutely vital to dealing with them. If I wouldn’t have prayed before talking to my parents last May, I have no doubt our relationship would be as it always was. Extremely painful for me. As it is though, I’m much happier than I’ve been in a long time, in spite of grieving the loss (dysfunctional or not, losing your parents is still a loss that needs to be grieved). It’s amazing the power of prayer. James 5:16 states in the last half of the verse, “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. ” (MSG) That is so true! Utilize that power & God will help you in ways you never imagined, even when it comes to something so complicated as dealing with a narcissistic parent!
Human beings aren’t the only ones who can suffer from mental illness. Animals can as well.
Contrary to what many people seem to think, animals have emotions like people do, & even process them much the same way as humans. This means that animals can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, following trauma.
Unfortunately for animals, they can’t verbalize their pain. You have to observe your pet to figure out if they have PTSD, & it can be tricky to identify.
My 2 year old cat, Punkin, has Feline PTSD. When he arrived in our home at 3 months old, I had no idea of this fact. All I knew was he showed up on the deck of the neighbor of my friend’s friend, & he was in need of a home. He was immediately friendly with the other cats, & seemed indifferent towards our dog, Dixie. A few months later, Punkin attacked Dixie out of the blue. My husband & I hollered at him immediately. He stopped, looking completely baffled, then ran away & hid. Thankfully Dixie didn’t even have a scratch, but she was visibly shaken, understandably so! My husband was mad at Punkin, but I realized he looked like I felt during a flashback. Once Punkin calmed down & apologized to Dixie (looking sheepishly at her & trying to be nice to her), I did some research & learned that yes, animals can have PTSD. I realized some signs to look for, at least in cats, but probably they are much the same in other animals:
- Kitty has been exposed to trauma. The lady who gave Punkin to me never knew of any trauma, & certainly there hasn’t been any since he’s been living with me. But, his attacking Dixie tells me he’s been through some terrifying experience with a dog before coming to me.
- Kitty avoids things that remind him of the trauma. For quite some time Punkin avoided Dixie. He wouldn’t even walk past her or nap on the bed or sofa if she was napping there.
- Heightened startle reflex. If your cat doesn’t see you’re going to touch him, he may jump drastically when you make contact. He can be very skittish.
- Sudden loud noises (for example, dropping a pan) upset your pet.
- Kitty can appear agitated or uneasy sometimes.
- Flashbacks. These can be harder to spot. Punkin looks different when it happens. He turns vicious (he’s normally very gentle, sweet & loving) for a very short time, then looks confused, & then runs & hides. After, he is skittish for a while.
- Kitty can respond disproportionately to what is happening. For example, someone suddenly picking up the cat startles the cat, who scratches &/or hisses. This behavior may trigger memory of the traumatic event.
After realizing what was going on with Punkin, I had to pray to figure out how to handle this problem. It’s not like I could take Punkin to a therapist, & he could discuss his feelings. As far as I know, veterinary medicine doesn’t even acknowledge PTSD in animals, so even a vet check up wouldn’t help. Thankfully God showed me some things.
- I pray for him. PTSD is nothing to take lightly, whether it’s in a human or animal. Although Punkin is doing very well most days, he has his bad days too. I pray for him on bad days as well as try to make him feel better if he’s open to it by offering extra love, playing or treats.
- I follow Punkin’s lead. If he wants to be left alone after a flashback, I leave him alone while keeping an eye on him from a distance to be sure he is OK. When he’s feeling playful or loving, I go with it. If he doesn’t want snuggles, I don’t snuggle him.
- If Punkin does something that warrants correction, I don’t holler at him, since noise upsets him. Instead, I say his name & tell him to stop it in a slightly louder than normal volume, but using a stern voice. He gets the point without aggravating that startle reflex.
- I try to keep life as consistent as possible. (Since I have Complex PTSD, it benefits me too.) I have a routine that rarely changes much. This helps Punkin know what to expect. It helps him to feel safe & secure.
- I give Punkin a lot of love & reassurance. He has no doubt he is loved & safe.
- We’re very blessed with Dixie- she has been a great help with Punkin learning to trust her. He sniffs her sometimes, as cats do, & she stays perfectly still, allowing him to sniff as much or as little as he likes. She’s never aggressive with him, which has helped him see that not all dogs are mean. She instinctively knows what he needs from her. As a result of efforts on both his & her parts, they are now on civil terms. In fact, sometimes he actually gives her a little love.
Another control tactic narcissists use is by ignoring their victim. Whether it is pretending the person didn’t say anything or the narcissist didn’t hear the person (when they obviously did) or the silent treatment, ignoring a victim is about control.
Being ignored may not sound very effective, but it can be surprisingly so. It communicates the message that the person being ignored is so awful, they don’t even deserve to be acknowledged. This message can be absolutely devastating, especially when done repeatedly.
It also makes the person being ignored work harder, trying to get the ignoring person’s attention. The person feels they must make it up to the ignoring person. Make what up? They rarely know, but they know they have done something so horrible, it made the ignoring person not want to speak to them.
If the narcissist in question has hearing problems, she may use it to help her ignore you. She may have what I refer to as selective hearing. If you say something she doesn’t like, she may act like she doesn’t hear you.
My narcissistic mother has ignored me more times than I can count. She has hearing problems, & uses it to play innocent claiming she didn’t hear me say something. Yet, I’ve tested her hearing. If we’re discussing something & she isn’t happy with what I’m saying, she without fail says, “What’s that Honey? I can’t hear you..” until I’m practically screaming. If the conversation is normal, I can practically whisper & she hears me fine. She also gives me the silent treatment on a regular basis.
Thanks to her ridiculous behavior, I have had to learn healthy ways to cope.
My mother started using the silent treatment with me sometime in my childhood. I don’t remember when exactly, but I remember her using it most often when her abuse was at its peak in my late teens. It used to upset me terribly! I would beg her to tell me what I did that was so bad, & she would respond with, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!” *sigh* I finally had a revelation. If she wouldn’t talk to me like the grown up she was, then whatever I supposedly did couldn’t be so bad. Or, if she wouldn’t tell me, then chances are it was because she didn’t have a leg to stand on- I probably didn’t do anything bad at all. Instead, she was trying to get me to work hard to earn her love back. This knowledge was very helpful for me. I no longer felt the need to work hard to earn her love. I have come to appreciate the silent treatment. I now think of it as a break from the drama & head games my narcissistic mother loves to play.
When she ignores me or uses her selective hearing, I involve my father or whoever else is there. As typical with narcissists, my mother does NOT want to look bad in front of others, so this works to my advantage. If she ignores me, I give my father a look of frustration or ask him to get her attention since she’s ignoring me. Then, he will call my mother by her name & mention me saying something, which forces her to acknowledge me. Once I have her full attention, I can repeat what I was saying. Of course, this works well when someone else is there only, which is another argument for not being alone with a narcissist. Having witnesses can be a very helpful thing, plus the narcissist usually behaves better when there are people around to impress.
I also remind myself whether she is simply ignoring me or giving me the full blown silent treatment that she isn’t doing this because of me. She is doing it because there is something wrong with her. Mature, normal, healthy people don’t treat other people this way. They discuss issues & work things out.
I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me, Dear Reader!
Exodus 20:12 “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee….” (KJV)
So many people in the Christian community are quick to remind those of us with abusive parents of the above Scripture. These people believe that we should treat abusive parents well, doing their bidding no matter how cruelly they treat us, & that is precisely the definition of honoring our parents.
In my mind though, that doesn’t sound remotely like the God I know at all!
To honor someone means you give them respect befitting their position. Your parents gave you life, so they deserve thanks for that. (thanks, not worship!) They deserve to be spoken to with basic respect, such as not cussing them out when you’re upset with them.
If you’re blessed with loving, Godly parents, go all out- love them however you see fit. Spend time with them, give them gifts, & let them know you appreciate them.
However, if you’re like most of my readers & I, & aren’t blessed with such parents, that type of honoring behavior probably feels wrong to you. It surely does me! I had to decide on my own with God what honoring my abusive, narcissistic parents felt like.
For me, to honor my parents first & foremost means praying for them. Not always easy, I freely admit that. But, God wants us to pray for our enemies, & sadly, I think my parents fit into that category. (They don’t love me- they only love what I can do for them. They regularly try to hurt, control & manipulate me.) I have an alarm set on my cell to remind me every morning to pray for my parents, other enemies, my friends, family & readers. Praying for them as well as everyone else has become much easier since I’ve been doing it daily for a few months now.
Honoring them also does not include tolerating abuse. If you study what God means by love in the Bible, you’ll see that one thing it basically means wanting the best for others. Allowing someone to be abusive isn’t wanting the best for them. Setting & enforcing good boundaries encourages them to behave right. Granted, it doesn’t always work with narcissists, but at least doing so is a loving & honorable thing to do.
Sometimes setting some distance between or even going no contact with your parents can be honorable. I was no contact with my mother for 6 years. God had been dealing with me for a while about making the step, but I thought that couldn’t be God! I asked Him one day if that was Him, because going no contact seemed so dishonorable to me. His response was among the clearest responses I’ve ever heard from Him. He said, “Where is the honor in the fact that your very presence stirs up strife with your mother? How is that honorable?” That along with some especially horrible things she did to me at the time gave me the courage to end contact with my mother.
As for more specifics, such as do you help out your elderly, abusive parent, that I believe is a decision only you can make. Ask God what you should do. I did this since my parents are now in their late 70’s. I asked if He wanted me to help them. God told me to do as I feel I am able to do, physically as well as emotionally. Due to physical & mental health limitations, it isn’t a lot, & that is fine. God understands! He also understands if I opt to do nothing to help them. My parents may not, but yanno something? I answer to God, not them. Let Him guide you as to what is best in your individual situation. He won’t lead you wrong!
Good morning, Dear Readers!
A few days ago, I finished a book for parents of children affected by narcissistic abuse. I believe it will help those of you in that painful position, including those of you co-parenting with a narcissist.
The book is available in both ebook & print format, as usual. The ebook version can be found here:
The print version can be found here:
Within a few weeks, both also can be found on amazon, Barnes & Nobel & other websites as well as my own site, www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
The book is shorter than my other books, but please don’t be discouraged by its size. I would rather print a small book full of good information than a much larger one filled with fluff. And, I’m sure readers prefer that as well.
One thing I have learned in the past few years is that people do NOT like unpleasant subject matters, & will go to great lengths to avoid them. Many people with terrible health problems know this all too well- they lose friends & even family after receiving a diagnosis of a dreadful disease. The people who once were closest to them suddenly have no time for them any longer.
This also happens with adult children of narcissistic parents.
It’s happened in my own life. Once I started learning that my mother was abusive when I was seventeen, & talking to a few people about it, my circle of friends became smaller. I talked less about it until many years later, once I started learning about narcissism. Then, I began to talk more & also to write about it. While my writing career suddenly began to take off, my personal relationships changed, especially when I also admitted to having C-PTSD. Some of my relationships became closer, especially with those who also survived a narcissistic upbringing, but many did not. Some people suddenly became very judgmental, telling me how I needed to just get over it, let it go, forgive & forget, stop living in the past, I use having C-PTSD for attention & even how I needed to be the one to fix things in my relationship with my parents.
This hurt & made me so angry! It’s not fair & it’s not right! I began to feel like I did as a child- everything wrong with my parents’ & my relationship was all my fault, I should fix it & if I didn’t, I was a failure. Not a nice way to feel at all!
If you too have experienced similar losses & invalidation in your relationships, you are not alone! I understand your pain & frustration!
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way to completely avoid such situations. The fact is, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, people don’t like unpleasant subject matters. They prefer light, fluffy, happy things, as the unpleasant things make them uncomfortable. Many people also cannot handle discussing unpleasant things about the parent/child relationship. They may come from a good home, & can’t comprehend that a parent would abuse a child, or they came from a dysfunctional home, & you discussing your own painful experiences trigger feelings they aren’t ready to deal with yet. Others may feel that you talk too much about your experiences. (Please see my post on taking breaks– not to make others more comfortable, but for your own mental health!) Whatever the reason, no one has the right to invalidate your pain!
To deal with the pain when this happens, please try to keep the last paragraph in mind. Most people aren’t trying to hurt you by what they say or do- they simply have their own issues or are even convinced they’re trying to help you. In any case, them treating you poorly isn’t about you doing something wrong, it’s about them.
Also, acknowledge your feelings. Yes, you’re hurt &/or angry, & it’s OK. Cry, talk to someone safe, journal or pray, but get your feelings out. Feelings are a natural part of life- respect them, don’t ignore them. Ignoring them never leads to anything good, only bad things like depression & health problems.
Be aware that part of the reason that what was said upsets you so much is it triggers old feelings that you experienced at the hand of your narcissistic mother. Narcissists demand their abuse be kept secret, so when someone else wants to silence you years later, that guilt for “telling” may show up. Or, invalidating your pain makes you feel as you did when your mother did it to you as a child- like you’re not allowed to have feelings because they’re only a nuisance to others. I’m not saying that these triggers mean you’re overreacting to being invalidated, of course. I’m simply saying that those triggers may make you less able to realize at first that you aren’t wrong for discussing this topic.
Be good to yourself afterwards. Once you get a firm grasp on your feelings & triggers, do something nice for yourself. A bubble bath, read a good book or some other little thing that makes you feel good.
And, ask God to help you let go of the hurt & anger you feel. You deserve better than to carry around those negative feelings. Besides, you have too much already to deal with considering you’re recovering from growing up with a narcissistic mother. That needs your attention much more.
Aging narcissistic parents are a very disturbing group of people. While most people mellow out as they age, narcissists often get more vicious. Not easy to deal with for their adult children!
As I write this, I’m waiting for my husband to come home. He’s at the hospital visiting his mother who was admitted today.
Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t go into much detail, so please bear with me a bit. Both my mother in-law & father in-law are narcissistic, her covert & him overt. As they are getting older & their health is failing them, they are making more demands on my husband. Also, he is facing the truth about them & how he’s been abused by them for the first time. It’s not an easy time for him. I’m very concerned how this situation is going to play out for him, & how he is going to deal with his own feelings.
I’m also a bit nervous about how I’m going to deal with my own feelings as well. You see, there were countless times I considered divorcing him earlier in our marriage because of the abuse his mother put me through & his failure to acknowledge it at the time. Honestly, sometimes I still get angry when I remember those dark days.
I’m sure there are others in similar situations, as many of us with narcissistic parents marry someone who also has at least one narcissistic parent. I’m writing about this to share what God has been showing me about how to cope.
Pray. About what? Whatever comes to mind regarding the situation. Personally, I’ve been praying for my mother in-law’s salvation (I’m unsure if she’s a Christian- I don’t believe she is), asking God to give my husband strength, wisdom & anything else he needs right now, & asking God to help me release my old anger at him. Prayers like this can truly help you as well as the recipients of your prayers! I admit, it isn’t easy to pray for my mother in-law, so sometimes I ask close friends to pray for her. It helps me know she’s getting prayer, plus I don’t have to do it at that time- I can do it later when I feel able to do so.
Distractions. I’m hoping to distract hubby when he gets home with a funny video that we love. We’re big fans of the old TV show, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” with its fun, warped humor, & since it always makes us laugh, I think watching an old episode could do us both some good. After all, it’s unhealthy to focus on the more serious issues in life 24/7. The brain needs a break sometimes!
Nice gestures. A little sweet, thoughtful gesture can go a long way when someone is going through hard times. Hubby will be greeted with raspberry herbal tea (we both love it) when he gets home. I’ll come up with other gestures once I gauge the kind of mood he’s in. Sometimes, he isn’t in the mood for interaction- he just wants to be left alone.
Listening. Before I start the movie, I’ll see if he wants to talk. Often when his mother is in the hospital, he comes home very frazzled. The hospital staff at this particular hospital isn’t the best (as I learned when my father was there last December), his parents are demanding & his sisters want constant updates until they come into town. It can be a lot for him to deal with.
I just thought I’d let you know that I am making some changes to my website. I’m finally stepping out of the stone ages & no longer using Microsoft Frontpage to make my site (please stop laughing, computer people.. I’m just not good with site creation! lol). As I was working on it today, I thought that it would be a good idea not simply to change the appearance of my site a little, but to ask you, Dear Readers, if there is any other information you’d like me to include on my website. I have quite a bit on there now about narcissistic & abusive mothers, mental health, Christian living & animals (you gotta get off the heavy topics sometimes!), but is there anything else you’d like me to include on my site? Or, any area I mentioned above that you’d like me to expand on?
I welcome your feedback! You can either leave a comment on this post or you can email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com
Have a wonderful evening! xoxo
I often get emails from adult daughters of narcissistic mothers who ask the same question: “The Bible says to honor my mother & father. How do I do this?” This is a very good question & on the minds of many people. My free ebook “How To Honor A Difficult Parent” is my most popular.
To start with, I believe people need to know both sides of what the Bible says about the parent/child relationship. Here are some Scriptures for your consideration..
Exodus 20:12, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (KJV)
Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.” (AMP)
Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]” (AMP)
While yes, children should honor their parents, parents also need to be aware that they are being disobedient to God if they abuse their children. I find it quite interesting that so many parents who are quick to tell their child Exodus 20:12 never seem to remember Ephesians 6:4 & Colossians 3:21…
Also, we need to consider what the word “honor” truly means. Merriam-webster.com defines honor this way: “1 b: a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder> ” I take this to mean that to honor your parents means you speak respectfully to them (you don’t cuss them out if you’re angry with them for example), & you respect the fact that they are your parents.
Nowhere in this definition does honor mean that one should be a doormat or a punching bag for another. Tolerating abuse is not honorable. Having no boundaries is not honorable. Catering to your parents’ every whim is most definitely not honorable nor is it loving the way God loves. God’s kind of love wants what is best for people, & sometimes what is best isn’t necessarily what they might like to have at the moment. Giving into people’s whims creates spoiled, ungrateful people, not good, compassionate, generous people.
Below are some ways to honorably treat your abusive parents..
Set & enforce healthy boundaries. Boundaries are not only for your protection, but they encourage others to either accept your boundaries & change their hurtful behavior, or to leave you alone.
Say no. No is a complete sentence sometimes, & often a very beneficial one. You needn’t explain your no if you don’t want to.
Always remember the truth. Narcissistic mothers love to reinvent things to make them more palatable. They cannot handle the guilt or shame of what they have done to their children, & many create stories about their adventures as a wonderful mother to cover up the fact they were NOT good mothers. My mother does this on a constant basis. This is a natural coping skill for many narcissists, as sad as that fact is. While it is her right to use that skill, you do NOT have to reinforce your narcissistic mother’s delusions. When this happens to me with my mother, I listen to her stories, but never say anything that says I agree with her version of events. If she asks if I remember something, I truthfully tell her I don’t. I also don’t tell her the truth about what really happened. As dysfunctional as this behavior is, it’s her choice to employ it. I don’t feel it’s my right to shatter her delusion. I came about this decision through prayer. If you pray about your similar situation, God may tell you to handle it differently, but in any case, I strongly urge you to pray about how to handle it!
Distance is your friend. While I’m not necessarily saying sever all ties with your narcissistic mother (only you can decide if that is the right step for you to take or not), I am saying sometimes distance can be good for both of you. If your mother has said or done something especially hurtful, you may not want to be around her for a while, & there is nothing wrong with that. Take a little time off for yourself before you deal with her again. Besides, believe it or not, the narcissistic mother will think about it, & she is aware of what she’s done to upset you so. I wrote about this in more detail in the following post: Do Narcissists Really Know What They’re Doing?
Don’t always be available. Narcissistic parents seem to think their adult children are sitting by the phone with baited breath, waiting for the parents to call. Obviously, this makes no sense. Unfortunately, in this age of cell phones, most people can be reached at any time of day. If you are available 24/7 though, your narcissistic parents will expect you to be available 24/7 no matter what, & there will be hell to pay if you suddenly aren’t available. If you normally always answer your parents’ calls, stop right now! Skip answering the phone sometimes. If you feel unable to handle their drama, then don’t take the call. Later, your narcissistic mother may attempt to make you feel guilty, but don’t let her! You are an adult. You pay for your phone. It’s up to you when & for whom you answer your own phone! And, don’t offer any explainations as to why you didn’t pick up the phone. “I was busy” is a sufficient answer. Your parents aren’t entitled to know every detail of your life.
Keep conversations superficial. Narcissists are extremely judgmental, so make your life easier on yourself by keeping the topics of conversation superficial. Don’t discuss personal details of your life with your narcissistic mother because that just gives her ammunition for her criticisms of you later. If she asks “How are you?” say “Fine.” “How is work going?” “Fine.” “What have you been up to lately?” “Nothing much.” See the pattern? In fact, to make your life easier yet, turn the conversation back to her & off of you. She’ll be more than happy to talk about herself instead of you anyway! You can discuss your life with people who genuinely care how you’re doing instead.
Putting these skills into practice can be very helpful for you not only to cope with your narcissistic mother, but also to honor her God’s way. And honoring her I believe is very important. Not because your narcissistic mother deserves honor, because frankly, she doesn’t. No narcissist does. It’s important because God wants us to honor our parents, & doing it shows Him how much you love Him.
Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
Sunday was only my second day helping my parents, but it was a really rough one both mentally & physically. So rough in fact, I realized that I can’t keep doing this. I can offer some help, sure, but on a very limited basis. Mentally I’m not very strong anymore. Then physically, I have bad knees so a lot of things are just too painful for me to do. I’ve been doing my parents’ laundry, as my father is now unstable on his feet after his stroke, & my mother claims her back pain is too bad to go up & down those steps. She has been wanting to have the washer & dryer moved upstairs from the basement, but has been dragging her feet on the issue. The next time I see my parents on this coming Sunday, I am going to tell her it needs to be done soon, & if not, then I will arrange to have help come into their home that they can pay for.
In order to discuss this topic with my narcissistic mother, I was given some very valuable advice. Something I hadn’t thought of. Make it all about her. If I told my mother I wasn’t able to do certain things because of my knee pain, she wouldn’t care. But, if I tell her that my knees make me unable to do things, which could cause her problems, she’ll be more interested. And, this winter is supposed to be a bad one with a lot of snow here in MD. I live on a major highway, which means I get plowed in. The highway may be clear, but there is a wall of solidly packed snow created by snowplows at the end of my driveway that means I can’t get out quickly or easily. This would affect her! I’ll just leave out the part that it’s frustrating when I get plowed in. This seems like a very good way to handle discussing things of this nature with any narcissist, I think. Every child of a narcissistic parent knows their parent doesn’t care about them unless what happens affects them somehow.
I have begun researching getting some help to be prepared. I looked into their insurance to see if they have long term care coverage, which they don’t. Long term care coverage is a wonderful thing- it pays for health care workers or nurse to come into their home & help them out in various ways.
Since that didn’t work out, I then found this link which directed me to my local caregiver support network in my county.
This has been a very helpful place for me to start. They told me an evaluation would need to be done (free) by a social worker before help can be hired, & provided me that phone number. They also gave me references to local home health care workers (they’re the people who do chores, laundry, & such), a directory of various services available in this state for seniors, info on a caregiver support group & much more. I learned that certain injuries or illnesses may be entitled to specific benefits. For example, my father has a traumatic brain injury, & there are special services available for him.
Here is another link with some good information as well:
My father also gave me a paper with some information on it that he got from his last hospital stay, too. Apparently many medical records can be available online & this paper had all the information I needed to access it. This is very handy as I can read exactly what the doctors have said & how they are treating him.
As for myself, I’m realizing that I need to take a day off each week to recover physically & mentally. Tuesdays work well for this for me, so I now plan to goof off each Tuesday. It gives me something to look forward to.
I hope this information helps any other caregivers who may be reading this. ❤
Good evening, Dear Readers!
My father recently had a mild stroke, which in addition to other health problems, has made him much more frail than he was. My mother has some health problems as well, so they need some help. This is where I come into the picture.
Being my parents’ only child, I think it’s only right for me to help them. Plus, I’m good at caregiving. I think most children of narcissistic parents are- we learned early in life how to read people & detect their needs. I’ve promised them part of the day each Sunday for this. This already makes me nervous, since both are narcissistic. I was a caregiver for my mother’s narcissistic mother for about a year, & it was miserable! I’m hoping & praying my parents aren’t as bad as my grandmother was.
So far, it’s been more difficult, but in different ways.
My folks are lonely, & want company as much as they want help. They’re frustrated with losing some independence. And, the new issues haven’t fixed the dysfunction in their marriage- they still fuss at each other & play head games.
I feel sorry for them.
In the time I spent caring for my narcissistic grandmother, this never happened. I didn’t think it would happen with my parents. Imagine my surprise.
This has made me have to work hard on keeping my focus on God’s will for this situation & my boundaries.
These may be my parents, but they also are dangerous to my mental health. The C-PTSD flares up in their presence, especially the anxiety. I also realized how quickly I slip into old, dysfunctional, unhealthy mindsets around them. This taught me how I need to keep focused on God & what is true. I will frequently ask God to remind me of what He says about me & what is true.
My plan to help them & keep my mental health is to pray even more than usual. I’ll be praying prior to visiting them. And, asking God to help me have discernment when needed, & to remember His truth about me, so any criticisms don’t hurt me.
I also realize I’ll need to get better at having a self care routine, & remembering to take things one day at a time. Maybe one hour at a time on bad days…another thing to ask God to help me with.
I’ll be sharing some about my new “adventure” in this blog. I pray it’ll help you if you too are the child of a narcissistic parent. ❤
Good evening, Dear Readers! I hope this post finds you well!
I spent some time working on my new book about narcissistic mothers today. It’s coming along slowly but surely. 🙂
I’m trying to cover every aspect of maternal narcissism- symptoms, behavior, what can happen to someone raised by a narcissistic mother & how to cope, men married to these women, ways to deal with her, & more.
I thought I’d ask if any of you have a topic you’d like to see covered in the book. I’m open to suggestions. Feel free to comment on this post, or email me at: CynthiaBaileyRug@AOL.com. I look forward to your input.
Good afternoon, Dear Readers.
I turned on my television today, & in a very short span of time, saw more ads regarding Mother’s Day than I can remember. I quickly turned it back off rather than listen to the drivel about how wonderful all mothers are, & how much they deserve jewelry & flowers on May 11th.
Since I’m hardly the only daughter of a narcissistic mother, I thought I’d write about what Mother’s Day can mean to us.
It is the day we dread most of the year, isn’t it? It certainly is for me. It’s so hard to want to celebrate your mother when she has done her best to make your life a living hell ever since you were born. Plus, you know she expects admiration, gifts & cards. Not fun. Especially when it seems like everyone thinks you should fawn all over your mother, no matter how she treats you.
Society can be so dysfunctional.
I know all too well that commandment that says we should honor our parents. However, I don’t believe it’s honorable to shower any abuser, even a parent, with insincere praise & gifts. Honoring someone God’s way means showing them respect & courtesy, not being fake. Besides, such a demonstration rewards bad behavior. It shows your mother she can do anything to you that she wants to do, & you still will pamper her. How is that honorable?
So what is a good, honorable way to handle such a difficult day with your narcissistic, abusive mother? To start with, pray. Ask God what He wants you to do, & how to handle Mother’s Day. He will give you the best advice you can ask for. Also, follow what you feel in your heart that you’re capable of doing. If it isn’t much, don’t feel bad! Any abusive mother is blessed if her adult child has any relationship with her at all, because even if she has changed for the better, child abuse causes pain & scars that last a lifetime. By having a relationship with your narcissistic mother, you’re showing what a kind, good person you are.
Whatever you do for your mother, do it with excellence. I’m not saying buy her a huge diamond ring when you barely can pay rent. What I mean is do your best even if it’s something small. Every year, I mail my mother the nicest, prettiest card I can find. I know she takes the messages to heart in cards, so I find the prettiest one I can find, with a picture I know she’ll like, & the simplest verse. Something like, “Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy!” I’m not above finding a pretty, blank on the inside card if I can’t find one that is simple enough for my liking. I can’t feel right about giving my mother some fake, “You’re the best mom ever!” kind of card that I don’t mean. But, I’m fine with a pretty card wishing her a nice Mother’s Day. And, she seems satisfied with the cards. It works for us both.
Granted, what I do for my mother isn’t much compared to others, but I’m honestly not capable of doing more after a lifetime of abuse. I believe God prefers His children to be sincere rather than phoney. You need to remember that what you do to genuinely bless your mother, on Mother’s Day & every day, will give you peace, & God will be proud of you.
Also, don’t forget to be good to yourself on Mother’s Day! Whether you have kids or furkids like I do, you’re still a mom! Or, if you don’t have either, that’s ok- take care of yourself on a difficult day. You deserve it! 🙂
There is one last thing I feel I should share with you. I’ve often berated myself for not being a better daughter- for not calling my parents more often, or suggesting we do things together. (Usually this happens around Mother’s or Father’s Day). Sadly, I can’t make myself improve in these areas- I’ve tried! But do you know what? After praying about it, God showed me that under the circumstances, I’m not a bad daughter. My parents have abused me, & shown no remorse for it. They’re lucky I speak to them at all, & me not wanting to spend time with them is normal. They are reaping what they’ve sown. Keep this in mind regarding your situation, too. Everyone reaps what they sow, whether they sow good or bad things. I know it can be hard to remember sometimes, but remember it anyway. ❤
Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
I need to rant a little today..
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard things like, “That’s your MOTHER! She’s the only one you’ll ever have!” or, “She won’t be around forever!” or other unasked for advice in telling me what *I* need to do to improve the abusive relationship between my mother & I.
Is it just me? I’m going to go out on a limb here & guess it isn’t just me..
Isn’t it infuriating, feeling like all of the responsibility of a relationship is on you?! Oh my word!!! I flippin’ hate that! Relationships are a two way street. There is a lot of give & take. It doesn’t matter if that relationship is parent/child, family, friendship or romantic. All relationships are give & take. There is nowhere in the Bible that says children must tolerate abuse from their parents. The only verse I’ve found says that children should honor their parents, & no where does the word honor equal being a punching bag or doormat or recipient of abuse. It simply means giving your parents their due respect for giving you life. Period. For further information on this topic, I have written some free ebooks on the topics. Simply click this link for access to them.
Good afternoon, Dear Readers! I hope this post finds you well today & ready to enjoy a lovely autumn weekend!
Yesterday was a very trying day for me. I had to run to the vet’s office & get some medicine for my kitty, Pretty Boy. With agoraphobia, even leaving the house let alone driving 15 miles to the vet is a challenge. Thankfully, the vet’s office is usually one place that I can handle fairly well. For good measure, I took my dog, Dixie along for a ride- her presence helped calm me. So I got home & was quite proud of myself! I did this trip with no panic! YAY ME!
I saw when I got home that my mother called while I was out. I changed into my bumming around the house clothes & was going to call her back when she called me instead. While I am glad to say she is still not deliberately being cruel to me, it was a rough talk. She explained what it’s like to have back problems (as usual, not acknowledging the fact I had back pain for 10 years resulting from her throwing me into a wall when I was 19). She also complained so much about my dad & the problems between them. *sighs*
After I hung up from that call, I made some chamomile tea & sat down with my computer to goof off for a bit. As I sat here, snuggling kitties & reading email, a few minutes later I heard a sound.. I knew it was my car- I thought maybe a branch fell off a tree & landed on the car. I got up to check & saw my dad. He had a doctor’s appointment not far from me & stopped by on his way home. While he was here, he spent his time complaining about my mother. *sighs again*
This is what is called Emotional Incest or Parentalizing. When a parent treats their child (of any age) as an equal by confiding in them about personal problems (especially romantic ones), expects that child to take care of their emotional well being & fix their problems, it is emotionally damaging to the child. Some problems resulting from being parentalized are:
- An over-developed sense of responsibility (if someone is upset, you feel it’s your job to fix the problem & make them feel better).
- Putting others first, even when you have genuine needs.
- Low self-esteem.
- Feeling “in the middle” with your parents.
I have experienced all of these things & more. On days like yesterday, I was physically shaky for a while. I also was achy all over, for no physical reason. This also made the Complex PTSD flare up- I normally cry easily but yesterday was worse, & I was so anxious. I also felt like I was a child again. The same fear & anxieties of my parents arguing when I was a child rose up in me.
Unfortunately I have not found a way to stop my parents from doing this entirely. The best things I have found to do are:
- Set & enforce boundaries to protect myself.
- Keep a distance- only talking to them when I am able to handle it emotionally.
- Change the subject often. When they start complaining about each other, I bring up any other topic I can think of. Often, they go right back to their conversation, so I have to change the subject again. Eventually, they will go along with me.
If you too go through the pain of being your parent’s parent, please know I understand. You are not alone in this, even if you feel like you are. Hugs to you!!!
Also, please check out my website.. I have some information on there for adult children of abusive mothers the following link: http://www.cynthiabaileyrug.com/Problem_Mothers.htm. And, on my free ebooks page, I have a free ebook available on the topic of Emotional Incest. Check it out..
God bless you & I’m praying for you! ❤